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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview with Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut; NYPD and Secret Service's Security Plan to Protect Trump Tower; Immigrants Fearful of Trump's Deportation Plans. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired November 18, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Do you look at them, Molly Ball, as a sign that he's going to stick to this right path?
[16:30:05] Not a correct path, but far right path?
MOLLY BALL, THE ATLANTIC: I think -- I think there are a lot of conflicting signals. I think it would be a mistake to lump in someone like Mike Pompeo who is a very conservative but pretty regular Republican with people like Flynn and Sessions who are much more unorthodox who I don't think would have a place in any Republican administration other than that of Donald Trump.
Right now, there is a battle for the soul of the Donald Trump administration and nobody knows what it is going to look like. Is it going to look like the alt-right populist nationalist vision of Steve Bannon or is it going to look like the kind of a Republican administration that a Reince Priebus would like to preside over that is stocked with traditional names. We have no idea.
I think as Kevin was saying, if they choose to listen to someone like Mitt Romney, that would be reassuring to a lot of people on the right and the left, not only in terms of his expertise but because of the signal of magnanimity that it would send. It would send the signal Donald Trump wants to put the good of the country above his personal grudges against people, and that is something that a lot of Republicans I talked to are not yet convinced of.
SCIUTTO: A.B., if you could listen to this, because the "Hollywood Reporter" just published an interview with Steve Bannon, White House chief strategist for the Trump administration. And I have to be honest reading this, it is a doozy. Let's have a listen.
Actually, it's not on tape, we're going to read it. He likens his power in this interview and his sway over the president-elect to Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors. He dubs the Trump victory the dawn of an entirely new political movement. Later in the interview, he says that darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power.
You listen to kinds of these kinds of statements here, that's not exactly morning in America.
A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: No. And, you know, we all read that he said that he's pushing a trillion dollar infrastructure plan that will make conservatives on the Hill make their fall out, because no one knows how Trump is going to pay for it. Every single thing that Trump is proposing adds to the deficit. Not one of them takes -- helps us get at the debt at all. It's all roads and bridges and V.A. hospitals and walls and tax cuts and new military spending and this infrastructure. So that part of it is interesting.
But the other thing is what you know from this interview is just sort of cements the vision of Bannon as this visionary movement leader. He is the one that makes Trump feel wonderful. Everyone comes in and says could you just get into this square peg and say this this way and get back on the teleprompter? Steve Bannon, when people say, do you think he'll be gone because he's getting so much criticism by January? No way.
Steve Bannon is going to be the most powerful voice in his ear. He was on the press release on top of Reince Priebus for a reason. And he thinks he's telling Donald Trump, you're changing the course of history, and he's going to be the most influential person there.
SCIUTTO: We have -- we do have Steve Bannon talking about this trillion dollar infrastructure plan. Have a listen.
It's not on tape. I'm going to read it. It says here go to the tape but I'm going to read it. "I'm a guy pushing a trillion dollar infrastructure plan with negative interest rates throughout the world, it's the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Shipyards, iron works, get them all jacked up. We're just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks."
Under a Democratic administration you might heard some Republicans calling this stimulus and how are you going to pay for it. And yet, it sounds like --
BALL: Well, you do have a lot of Republicans saying that. We have had both Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell say this is not something they're interested in because it isn't a traditional Republican platform.
On the other hand, it is music to the ears of a lot of Democrats. There are a lot of Democrats that would love to go along with the kind of thing they have been proposing for years.
You know, as A.B. was saying, Steve Bannon is the ideological core of Donald Trump. Donald Trump is not a very ideological person. He's certainly not a philosopher or theorist of politics. Bannon is and Bannon wants Trump to be the leader of a movement that is not Republican and not Democrat but a radically new kind of populism.
And the question will be, when he runs into a wall in the Congress, when his own party says this is not what we stand for, can he overcome that or not?
SCIUTTO: When you look at the White House, you have very conflicting voices in there, right? Priebus that speaks for the establishment. You've got an alt-right guy in Bannon. I mean, those are some pretty remarkable pit bulls in the ring. We'll have to see who wins. Molly Ball, Kevin Madden, A.B. Stoddard, thanks very much.
You can get more of CNN's behind-the-scenes story of this campaign as it happened. Order "Unprecedented: The Election That Changed Everything", at CNN.com/book.
So far, Trump's picks for his team are GOP hard-liners. So, will Democrats be able to find any common ground with them? We're going to ask a Democratic senator right after this.
[16:38:46] SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
President-elect Trump's new appointment decisions could speak volumes about which direction his administration is taking. Some of them hard line Republicans with a history of going against the grain.
I want to bring in Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. He is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator Murphy, thanks very much for joining us today.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Sure.
SCIUTTO: Let's look at some of these appointments today. These are very key appointments in the national security space in any administration. Michael Flynn, he does not require Senate confirmation. But will Democrats call for Trump to rescind that nomination as they did for Steve Bannon?
MURPHY: I think we have to be very concerned about Michael Flynn being on the inside of U.S. national security strategy. This is someone who was relieved of his duties working in the defense intelligence field. He then did something unprecedented, which was to walk outside of the military and criticize his former boss, his commander in chief, which virtually no one does in the military today.
And he brings into the White House a set of incredibly dangerous views about Islam. He has basically made his name by saying that the United States should declare war on Islam as a religion. That the entire religion presents a threat to the United States.
First, that is fundamentally untrue.
[16:40:00] This is not the Crusades. But second, that is bulletin board material for terrorist recruiters, what ISIS wants desperately right now as they're losing territory inside Iraq and Syria is for the United States to do something that draws more recruits into its fold. There is nothing that we could do that would be a better recruitment tool for ISIS than to declare that the United States is at war with the entirety of the Islamic religion.
SCIUTTO: They don't need you to confirm him, but will you do something to try to stop him? Will you ask for his nomination to be rescinded? MURPHY: I think this is a very dangerous pick and I would hope that
Donald Trump would rethink the selection of General Flynn. I would hope that he would put someone next to him in the White House who is going to counter some of his more impulsive instincts, not feed into them. I think what we're missing right now is some very sober-minded, experienced diplomats in the White House.
Right now, we seem to have political operatives rather than experienced foreign policy hands, and I think that's something that all Americans should be very concerned about.
SCIUTTO: Let's talk about Senator Jeff Sessions. You will hear and folks are now familiar that in the '80s when he was brought up for a federal judgeship, he was rejected by a Republican-controlled Senate for espousing positions that were perceived as racist. Since then, and the campaign -- rather, the transition team made the points that he has defended desegregation, he voted for the extension of Voting Rights Act, et cetera, you worked with him in the Senate. Do you have doubts about Senator Sessions in terms of his commitment to voting rights and civil rights?
MURPHY: Well, I accept that people can change. I think that it is important for us to remember that, as you said, it was a Republican- led Senate that decided he wasn't worthy to sit on the bench. But many of us have worked with Jeff in the Senate, and I want to hear from him in his confirmation hearings whether he still holds these views that he made very public about his disdain for African-Americans in and around Alabama. And I want to hear about his views on the reform of the criminal justice system to try to right some of these wrongs.
I mean, if he's serious about being a changed man, then work with us on trying to end a criminal justice system that targets African- Americans and Hispanics at a rate that is unprecedented in this country. So let's hear from him, let's give him an intense vetting. A lot of us know him and a lot of us personally like him, but we've got to hear whether he really is going to be a reformed man as our attorney general.
SCIUTTO: Mike Pompeo seems to be getting more bipartisan support. I've heard that from Democratic House members and senators, as well as Republicans. You've worked with him as well. What's your view of him as CIA director?
MURPHY: So, I don't know Mike as well, he was in the House of Representatives while I was in the Senate. So, I think it's too early for many of us in the Senate to judge Mike. But again, the trend line that worries me is that most of the people that we have seen -- Pompeo is actually an exception. Pompeo supported Rubio before he supported Trump.
MURPHY: But most of the people we're seeing selected for these key national security posts seem to be, first, loyalists and second experienced foreign policy thinkers. So, I'd like to see some more people that were maybe outside of the Trump camp and can bring some expertise to the administration on how to keep the country safe.
SCIUTTO: Obamacare, Donald Trump said he was going to repeal it. Since then he's expressed some flexibility on it. What are Democrats going to do? Do you have a plan to stop the repeal of Obamacare if the Republican-led Congress goes that way?
MURPHY: Well, I have, you know, almost a quarter million people in Connecticut who have gotten care through the Affordable Care Act, 80 percent satisfaction rates of those who have signed up, record sign- ups just in the last month.
I think the challenge here is Republicans don't know how to repeal this law. There's no way to keep the good parts of the law, as Republicans say, and get rid of the parts Republicans don't like. Donald Trump has said he wants to continue the provision that stops insurance companies from charging sick people more. As he will find out quickly, you cannot do that without requiring that everyone have insurance. You cannot do that without having subsidies to help people buy insurance.
So, this whole idea of keeping the good parts, getting rid of the bad parts, it's a total fiction. And so, many of us are going to be waiting to see what Republicans propose. They've had this great deal for the last eight years. They have been able to say they want to repeal it and replace it without actually telling us what the replacement is.
Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that people would have better health care for lower cost by repealing the Affordable Care Act. Let's wait and see if he can pull that off.
SCIUTTO: Now is the test.
Senator Chris Murphy, thanks very much.
MURPHY: Thanks a lot, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Appreciate it.
Is midtown Manhattan about to become White House north? We'll look at the intense security going into place around Trump's home in New York City and what it means for the city, my hometown, that's already been targeted by terrorists. That's next.
[16:45:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: We're back with our "NATIONAL LEAD" now. It is an unprecedented security challenge, guarding Donald Trump's home in Trump Tower, smack in the middle of Manhattan's busy Fifth Avenue. That stretch is already a New Yorker's nightmare. I know because I'm a New Yorker, too. Now, Midtown Manhattan is home base for the President-elect of the United States until inauguration day in January. A White House North, if you will. As the leader of the free world plans his presidency. Now, earlier this afternoon, the NYPD and Secret Service released a long-term plan for security around the building. CNN's Deborah Feyerick is outside Trump Tower there. Deb, I notice those big dump trucks are gone. But what's the plan for beefing up security there?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are - well, you know, security right now is pretty much as tight as it really can be. And today, the NYPD is saying that they're no longer going to allow trucks to actually pass by Trump Tower. You have to think about it, it's a 58-story glass tower and it has been a public atrium where people can go in and out. Well, they're not going to be able to do that without being screened. That is a big change.
Also, you can see the cars moving behind me. This is a five-lane street. It is now going to be reduced to down to three lanes. There's going to be a heavier sharpshooter presence on some of the roofs. And people are not going to be able to go anywhere near that tower unless they are screened, that includes along 56th Street, which is the entrance into the residence area.
[16:49:58] If they want to walk on the street, they can, but they're going to have to subject their packages, their bags, anything to screening, and that's really the way it's going to be inside Trump Tower as well. You know, Secret Service has to account for the elevators, they've got to account for the floors surrounding where the president-elect is going to be residing, and they've also got to be concerned about air vents.
So, there's really a lot that's going to go into the security. The head of the Secret Service here in New York today said that he really does believe that they've got a good plan in place. This is not their first rodeo. They have done a lot of really high-level security for dignitaries, think about the pope, think about the United Nations general assembly, so they are used to it. But what people here in this area are not used to is just the amount, the volume of traffic that they are seeing because of the security here in midtown, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Yeah, five lanes to three lanes. Now, all around there, you've got Rockefeller Center, you've got Tiffany's, the Apple Store. I mean, this is a major shopping area. I can't imagine the businesses around there are too happy as Christmas season comes.
FEYERICK: No. No, they're not, really because a lot of people who wander these streets, they're not going to be going into the stores. It's really very difficult. It is difficult during an ordinary Christmas season when you've got a lot of tourists from out of town, but now, because of the barricades, because of the traffic flow, it's going to be even harder. You know, a taxi down to the Apple Store, which is just a few blocks here, it can cost you $20 to go 20 blocks. How do I know that? Because I got stuck in that traffic. So, it's really going to be tight, and the stores are going to have to do the best they can. But they're not happy about it, because people may pass by but they may not go in and that's going to affect sales.
SCIUTTO: I know that traffic, too, well as well. Deb Feyerick for us, thanks very much. During the campaign, Donald Trump said he would deport millions of undocumented immigrants. Reaction to a Trump Presidency from one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country. That's right after this.
[16:55:00] SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Trump's new picks to fill his inner circle certainly have not done much to calm the fears of groups worried about many of the things he said during the campaign. A growing number of immigrants, for instance, they fear that Trump will try to round up Hispanics and deport them by the millions. In fact, the candidate said as much during the campaign. Mexico's foreign ministry released a video on social media aiming to calm anxiety and explain to immigrants where to get support as well as accurate information.
CNN's Miguel Marquez, he's joining me now live from Queens, New York. So, Miguel, I know a very diverse community you're in there, and you spoke to a group trying to reach some of the immigrants who live there. What are those people saying and how are those groups trying to help them?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the immigrants in this country, the proposal by President-elect Trump to deport 2 to 3 million immigrants is like a shot of fear through the entire community across the country, not just here in New York. There - he wants to say -- he say he wants to deport those that have a criminal record, but the numbers don't exactly add up. The Migration Policy Institute says of the 11 million individuals who are in the country illegally from all different races, but 800,000 of them have a criminal record, but only about 300,000 of them have a felony record. So exactly, which criminals the President-elect wants to get rid of is not very clear (INAUDIBLE) is here on a temporary basis because (INAUDIBLE) signed by President Obama, something that could disappear overnight. Here's how she's (INAUDIBLE).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's scary to go outside and we don't even know if we're going to be here tomorrow if -- I don't know if I'm going to be here in a month, in two years, one year, and what is going to happen with my daughters. I mean, they were born here, this is their country, and my country as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: Now, President Obama, just to put this in a little perspective, he deported some nearly 3 million immigrants during his eight-year tenure. He was sometimes called the deporter-in-chief. Talking about 3 million individuals in a short period of time, months or years, would beat the massive federal program. It would involve the state level and city level, this at a time when cities around the country are saying they're sanctuary cities and they will not participate. Jim? SCIUTTO: We know you're in New York, Miguel, when you've got the L Train passing over your head. We have Trump's pick as Attorney General, are -- is there a reaction to that pick in particular there?
MARQUEZ: Very much so. This is after President-elect Trump's talk about deporting 2 to 3 million immigrants, his next big step was A.G. for them. This is a position they're watching very closely because he'll have great sway over how policy is implemented in this area. We were dealing with "Make The Road" today, this is group, an advocacy group that helps immigrants in the New York area, but there are many groups across the country that deal with immigrants in similar ways. Here's how one of their advocates talked about Jeff Sessions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NATALIA ARISTIZABAL, ORGANIZER OF MAKE THE ROAD: It suggests to us that they want to pick the biggest fight against the immigrant community, and that they are ready to try to tear us apart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: Now, immigrants saying that the one thing that they are preparing to do now is fight. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Miguel Marquez, thanks very much. That's it for me on THE LEAD today. You could sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JimSciutto. Coming up, in that place you'd expect him to be, "THE SITUATION ROOM" as my colleague, Wolf Blitzer. As always, thanks for joining us today.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM ANCHOR: Happening now, "BREAKING NEWS," Trump settles in what's being called a stunning reversal. The President-elect reaches a $25 million -